In a Texas town, a fence dividing white, black cemeteries seen as odious relic

MANSFIELD -- A fence divides two cemeteries, one founded for white people, the other for blacks.

The fence has been there as long as anyone locally can remember. It stayed up, and presumably was replaced a few times, after the U.S. military was integrated in 1948, after the Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" was unconstitutional in 1954 and after the Mansfield schools were forcibly integrated in 1965.

The U.S. even elected a half-black president in 2008.

Yet the fence is still there.

Plenty of people in Mansfield, one of the fastest-growing cities in Tarrant County and one that is increasingly diverse in its racial and ethnic makeup, probably aren't even aware of the fence or paid any mind to the statement it has made for so many years.

But some longtime residents, particularly blacks, want it gone as a different kind of statement.

"It's symbolic," said Brenda Norwood, a retired teacher who with her husband started a local Juneteenth celebration more than 20 years ago. "It represents separatism. There's no place for it, not in this time and age. It needs to come down."

Whether it does anytime soon is still unknown.

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